Cancel culture’s most egregious crime (and the one for which it is most hated) is destroying America’s collective childhood. Millions of Americans grew up watching Looney Tunes and playing with Mr. Potato Head only to be informed that these staples of our youth were not sufficiently “inclusive.” Beloved characters, movies, TV shows, theme park attractions, and toys were placed on cancel culture’s chopping block for “racist” or “sexist” undertones many of us never knew existed.

The latest example of that is Splash Mountain.

Opening in Disneyland in 1989 and in Disney World in 1992, the beloved log flume ride has been a fan favorite for more than three decades. Unfortunately for fans, cancel culture deemed the ride racist due to its attachment to Disney’s notorious “Song of the South.” Although none of the “racist” components of that film make it into the attraction, Disney execs opted to end the ride, and on Sunday, its doors officially closed in Disney World. Likewise, it is expected to close in Disneyland this spring.

To say that fans were heartbroken would be an understatement.

Splash Mountain was a nostalgic relic of millions of Americans’ childhoods, mine included. Growing up, we had no idea that PC police would one day discover the ride had offensive, racist undertones.

Since Disney announced it would be closing the attraction for good, a petition to keep the ride has collected over 99,000 signatures. “Splash Mountain has never included depictions of slaves or any racist elements and is based solely on historical African folktales that families of all ethnicities have been enjoying for nearly a century,” wrote the petition’s author.

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On the day the ride finally closed, a mass of fans flocked to pay their respect. Parkgoers reportedly waited in line for up to four hours for one last splash on the “extremely problematic” ride. As the day came to a close, emotional crowds gathered to sing the attraction’s cherished theme song, “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah.”

The captions “splash mountain goodbye,” “goodbye splash mountain disney vault,” and “Sad splash mountain goodbye” have respectively racked up 476.9 million, 16.8 million, and 486.7 million views on TikTok.

Herein lies the absurdity of cancel culture: it targets the most innocent of things; things loved by millions of average (and unequivocally non-racist) Americans. Does Disney really believe hundreds of park guests would wait in line for hours to enjoy a racist ride? Why is social media mourning its downfall? How is it that Splash Mountain lasted for more than three decades if it truly is offensive?

Regardless of what the outrage mob may say about “Song of the South” (a movie most of them have not even seen), the ride itself was devoid of even the faintest hint of racism. For Disney to shut it down highlights the extreme sensitivity of cancel culture, and will no doubt hurt the company more than it helps.

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In its place, Disney has announced it will be reimagining the attraction with a Princess Tiana (Disney’s first black princess) theme, and I can already foresee the culture war that is to come.

Mark my words: Disney and the media will use the launch of its new Princess Tiana-themed log flume ride as an excuse to play the race card and levy accusations of racism on the American public. When the rebranded attraction opens in 2024, it will be met with an outcry of disappointment (not because Disney fans are racist, but because they will miss the classic ride that they grew up with). Disney, of course, will interpret this as yet another symptom of societal racism. The media will decry the park’s “toxic fanbase.”

Such a scenario has played out several times already. In 2017, “The Last Jedi” was poorly received by many Star Wars fans. But their dislike for the movie quickly exploded into an all-out culture war. “Star Wars, and a loud section of Star Wars fans, have tragically become synonymous with hate, bigotry,” wrote Esquire. Years later, after the Obi-Wan Kenobi Disney+ TV series also received mixed reviews, another publication wrote that the incident “shone a light on the toxicity of Star Wars fandom.”

This argument is debunked by the fact that “The Last Jedi” was immediately preceded by “Rogue One,” by far the most well-received installment in the Disney era of Star Wars, but also the most ethnically diverse. How is it that a “racist,” “bigoted,” and “toxic” fandom loved Rogue One with its female lead and inclusive cast? Rather than taking the blame and committing to making better content, Disney has shifted the blame onto its fanbase, slandering the consumer with ugly accusations.

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This shameful blame game has already begun in regard to the Splash Mountain controversy. “This makes me so angry white people do not understand the privilege that they have,” commented one social media user in response to the internet’s tearful reaction to the ride’s closure. “It’s like the only problem white people have is crying over a racist ride getting a retheme,” added another. As it turns out, if you are nostalgic for Splash Mountain because you grew up on it, you have white privilege. And if you do not like a certain Star Wars film or Disney’s upcoming Tiana ride, you are a part of a toxic fanbase.

If anyone is actually defending the attraction on the merits of its alleged racism, I disavow. By and large, however, most fans simply want their childhoods back.

In the past year, Disney’s headfirst plunge into politics has hurt the company tremendously. If it keeps making moves like this – aligning itself against the consumer, making its guests into the bad guys – any dying ember of the so-called happiest place on earth’s magic that remains will soon fade.

Jakob Fay is a staff writer for the Convention of States Project, a project of Citizens for Self-Governance.

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